For many people, Goldeneye represented the best game of the Nintendo 64’s era. Forget Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Those may have been instant classics, but if you wanted a hardcore experience with plenty of shooting and an unforgettable multiplayer experience, you didn’t have to look too much further than Goldeneye. The game had some pretty simplistic shooting mechanics, but in today’s shooter-heavy landscape, the formula for the N64 game, while it feels nostalgic, hasn’t aged well. However, Goldeneye for the Wii is a completely different beast and manages to both capture the original’s spirit as well as provide a modern experience that both newcomers and veterans of the franchise can appreciate.
Although I was tempted to check out the multiplayer portion of Goldeneye first, I decided to check out the story mode first, since that was the part of the game I knew the least about. When the game started, I recognized the first level immediately, and I was slightly disappointed, as I figured the rest of the game’s story mode would be a recreation of the original Goldeneye. However, although the narrative of the first level is nearly identical to the N64 version, the similarities stop after that. The first level is a nod to longtime fans.
Of course, the game is still based on the Goldeneye movie/novel, so you can expect major plot points to stay the same, but the way they are handled has changed, which is quite refreshing. The game has also updated the game to feature more modern situations and settings (I won’t give too much away, but let’s just say it’s not all about the Russians anymore) and has also replaced the ubiquitous gadget watch with a sleek new smartphone. Even though players familiar with Goldeneye know how the situation with 006 will ultimately play out, the new elements of the story as well as Daniel Craig’s presence as Bond really breathe new life into the narrative and make it worth playing all over again.
Aside from the changes in story, there are several other key changes you’ll notice in Goldeneye’s story mode. First up is the shooting, which has been modernized and feels a lot faster than it did in the original. The game also has a fully-customizable control interface that lets you play the way you want. For old-school fans, the classic/GameCube controller works the best, and the dual-thumbstick controls get the job done with precision not seen in the original. If you want to go the motion control route, the Wii-Mote and Nunchuck duo work surprisingly well, as well as the Wii Zapper control option. But no matter which control option you use, you can switch up things like button mapping and strafe speed, so if you don’t like the way a particular control scheme works, you can really only blame yourself, as the customization options here are robust enough for players of all preferences.
Another big difference in the gameplay is the implementation of a more modern structure. Instead of having a life bar and a single weapons slot, Goldeneye on the Wii allows you to carry up to three weapons at a time (with James Bond’s signature P99 handgun as a permanent staple with infinite ammo) and also uses the more modern damage system that alerts you to low health with increasingly bloodshot views (that clear up after only a few seconds). However, if you are nostalgic, you can play the game on its hardest setting, which will see the return of the non-refilling health bar. And, true to the original, if you select this mode you’ll have to find body armor items in each level to refill your health. It’s definitely harsh!
The story mode in Goldeneye is certainly a selling point and would be worth the cost of admission alone. However, what most fans are excited about is the multiplayer. And trust me, it doesn’t disappoint. The original Goldeneye was something of a local multiplayer staple in its day, and before the advent of “party” games, Goldeneye was the title you got together with your friends to play. Goldeneye on the Wii takes this concept to new heights, as the added online functionality breathes new life into this concept and adds plenty of modern conventions to keep players engrossed in the online experience.
There are a plethora of online modes to choose from, and no matter whether you want to play standard deathmatch games or classic modes like “Golden Gun,” there is plenty to check out online. The online mode also features a fantastic leveling system that rewards players for checking out different modes as well as variety, frequency, and style of kills during play. The XP system is especially important, as you will need to level up to access all of the game’s modes (three are locked until you get to the appropriate level) and unlock custom loadouts.
Although the game features plenty of good standard loadouts, unlocking the custom loadout feature will enable you to put together your favorite weapons, grenades, and gadget devices (yes, the online multiplayer does support gadgets!) so you never have to search the terrain for your favorite items. Of course, the best weapons and gadgets require a high level to unlock for custom loadouts, so you’ll have to do some serious work in front of you. And of course, you have five different loadout slots, so it is easy to create different loadouts for different modes. In addition to the maps, loadouts, progression system, and modes, Goldeneye’s multiplayer component also supports special modes like Paintball and Melee-Only which insert a welcome twist on the gameplay during long stretches.
The multiplayer component in Goldeneye is the best multiplayer experience on the Wii, comparable to online multiplayer modes on the PS3 and Xbox 360. There is an amazing amount of variety, and the amount of unlockable content is staggering. And if you were wondering about whether the Nintendo WFC service can handle a big multiplayer title like Goldeneye, worry no more. The matchmaking in the game was always lightning fast (I never waited more than thirty seconds to get into a game) and there was never any lag or technical issues during gameplay. Although I only logged time on launch day, there was a healthy amount of people playing the game, and I never ran into any issues. The only real technical criticism I have of the online modes is the fact that it doesn’t support voice chat. In some of the objective team-based mode, having a voice chat option would have been a great way to take the game that much further.
As far as production values go, Goldeneye hits most of the right notes, though there are a few negligible issues that keep it from being the best. The visuals in the game are generally very good, but there are some areas (particularly in the second level) where environmental details and texture quality takes a dip. However, on the whole the visuals look great on the Wii, and this title is certainly in the upper echelon of Wii games in the visuals department. Sound in the game is also a bit of a mixed bag. While background themes can be grating after awhile (especially during long play sessions), the game’s voiceover is pitch-perfect. Stars Daniel Craig and Judi Dench both do an admirable job in their roles, and the supporting cast also deserves credit for bringing the world of Goldeneye to life in the game.
Although re-makes and re-releases are common in the current console generation, it is rare that you see a remake that has been as overhauled as Goldeneye. Though the basic premise of the game is the same, the new take on the story, modernized gameplay elements, and robust multiplayer options definitely make this game worth picking up if you were a fan of the original or just want an amazing shooter on the Wii. Goldeneye may not be able to compete with shooters on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 in terms of graphics, but I can confidently say that it certainly is comparable in terms of features, both online and off. Goldeneye may have gone through a rigorous transformation on its way to the Wii, but in this case, the changes have all been for the better. Goldeneye is in top form on the Wii, and definitely deserves your attention.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.7 Graphics
Visuals are rough in places, but are definitely a lot smoother than the original N64 version. 4.5 Control
There are multiple control schemes for each of the control options, and you can toggle things like strafe speed to suit your play style. 4.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music can be repetitive in parts, but Daniel Craig and Judi Dench’s voiceovers sound great. 4.8
With a new story, a plethora of multiplayer modes (both online and off), and tons of unlockables, there is considerable value to Goldeneye on the Wii.
4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.